NFL Network morning host Kyle Brandt has roots in suburbs
One of the better features on the NFL Network's year-old morning show is the Fantasy Football Name Generator.
How it works is viewers share a few facts about their life and "Good Morning Football" host Kyle Brandt, a Lincolnshire native, then creates a custom name for their fantasy football team.
Brandt declined to comment on how many interns are toiling away in the NFL Network basement feeding him suggestions, but here's an example. A recent submission was a plumber, who is a big 49ers fan and loves to eat.
Brandt generated the fantasy name "San Flushisco Foodie Niners."
"It's been a really fun thing," Brandt said in a phone interview. "I've got people walking up to me at LaGuardia, they're like, 'Hey man, I like Pringles and the Bengals and I'm a huge fan of Hugh Jackman. What's my fantasy name?' "
OK, so let's try to generate a fantasy team name for Brandt. He was a three-year starting running back at Stevenson High School in the mid-1990s, says he was a huge Pearl Jam fan back then, often claims to be the best Tecmo Bowl player of all time (that's a primitive football video game), and has taken a meandering career path to the set of "Good Morning Football."
Here are a few ideas: Jeremy's Falling in the Tecmo Bowl Championship; Good Night Rome, Good Morning Football, or maybe Hollywood Isn't the Real World.
Brandt's Twitter bio contains the line, "my resume is weirder than yours," and he can back it up. Pop culture afficionados might remember Brandt as a cast member on MTV's reality game-changer "The Real World" during the initial Chicago season that aired in 2002.
After that, he spent 3 ½ years on the soap opera, "Days of Our Lives." He stepped away from acting in 2007 to work as executive producer of Jim Rome's syndicated radio show and various television projects.
On "Days," Brandt had one of those classic soap opera introductions. He took over an existing character from another actor, so his first scene involved tearing off bandages to reveal a new face. He referenced that moment when talking about his return to an on-camera role after several years working behind the scenes for Rome.
"During that time, I got married, had two kids, but always knew that I wanted to come out from the shadows, take the bandages off again, which I finally did last summer when the opportunity came from the NFL," he said. "We moved the entire Brandt family all the way across the country on very short notice to do this brand new morning show, which they said was going to be different and fresh."
Brandt is well-suited for his role on "Good Morning Football." He has football and academic credentials, having been a three-year letter winner at Princeton. He has the acting background, and he seems to relate well to the show's target audience, the obsessive fantasy football player. He is also well-versed in non-sports culture such as "Harry Potter," "Star Wars" or "Game of Thrones."
"I'm hip deep in the geek world, for sure," Brandt said. "The guy sitting at home watching on the couch or the guy who's annoyed at having the 11th pick in his fantasy draft -- I can relate to that guy. I've been both of those guys."
Brandt's coach at Stevenson was Bill Mitz, now head coach at Jacobs High School. One of Mitz's fondest memories was a playoff game against Fremd in 1996 when an injury prompted Mitz to use Brandt at both running back and linebacker for one of the few times in his high school career.
Of course, Brandt's nickname when he played in high school was "Baywatch," since he looked like someone who would be patrolling a beach in Southern California.
"He was a tough, physical player," Mitz said. "He's come a long way from 'The Real World' and 'Days of Ours Lives.' I told him he's finally doing something that he knows -- football."
Brandt said appearing on "The Real World" was an accident. The show just happened to hold a casting call on the Princeton campus during his senior year. Even if that never happened, he was planning to move to Hollywood after college to give acting a try.
"In college, I was a football player, but I was also the guy who would run from the practice field to the theater because I was in a play," he said.
He says his goal every day on "Good Morning Football" is to have fun, and to make football fun. The other regulars on the show are Chicago native Kay Adams, former NFL receiver Nate Burleson, and NFL scribe Peter Schrager.
"There's way too much screaming, way too much debating, way too much animosity right now on sports shows," he said. "We have none of that. It is always a good time, always entertaining."
When it comes to fun, football and entertainment, Brandt said one recent life highlight was discovering someone had uploaded game video from Stevenson's 12-1 season in 1996 onto YouTube.
"I've talked to players who said, 'I won the Super Bowl, made the Pro Bowl and was all-American in college. Still, my favorite memories are of those Friday Night Lights,' " Brandt said. "I've been able to do some pretty cool things. I don't care if it makes me an Uncle Rico (Hollywood note -- that's a reference to the movie 'Napolean Dynamite'). I don't care. High school football is still some of the fondest, warmest memories of my life."